The Basics of eCommerce

March 16, 2020

Author: Deepika Sulekh

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What you need to know about starting an eCommerce website

Our retail landscape has never been more primed for growth, and with eCommerce growing in popularity every year, and your consumers already becoming the leaders, it’s time for retailers to step up, evolve and thrive in the digital world.

Shoppers today are so well informed with unlimited access to product information, reviews, and even unboxing videos that when they have made the decision to buy, they probably know more about the products than the shop assistants. No wonder many of us turn to online shopping.

But the good news for retailers is there’s more opportunity now than ever before.

So what should you consider when deciding whether to trade online?

Know your target market

There is no point trading online if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Identify who your target market is, so you can be there when consumers are looking and eventually be able to give them a personalised experience. You still need to do the work required to create your store’s buyer personas. Knowing who you are going after is the corner stone around which you design your online store.

It’s worth bearing in mind that when selling online, your market is potentially global. Shoppers are increasingly looking internationally as cross-border buying becomes easier.

Focus on customer experience

Consumers judge your business’s credibility from your website, and if you don’t make that first impression, you’re losing sales. Think about user experience at every step: use original and high-quality photos, optimise for search engines, make checking out easy, and ensure your page speed is fast. Remember, image is everything and you are being judged by your cover.

We see majority of eCommerce traffic happening on a mobile device and know it’s imperative that your site is designed with mobile in mind as it’s going to be heavily involved in the buyer journey.

However, conversion rates still favour desktop (3.9%) over mobile (1.82%), so your website needs to look equally good on a desktop. Responsive design is the most cost-effective way to ensure that you have covered all of your bases, but getting it right is easier said than done with browser compatibility and different operating systems to be catered for.

Remove friction

The key touch points where this applies is payments and shipping. Removing friction across the whole eCommerce path is vital to ensure a smooth customer experience.

To win with shipping, retailers need to provide diverse shipping options that are flexible and offer easy return options – from normal delivery to click and collect to specific pickup times.

On the payments front, ensure your processor is secure, easy to use and importantly, functional on mobile.

Choose your platform

The choices here are legion, but it is a simple case of form follows function for this particular decision. You need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different eCommerce platforms on offer and how they map to your business and your workflow. You want a solution to mould to your workflow, rather than trying to redesign your workflow to fit a solution.

There are many out there and they all claim to be great, but the two standouts are Woocommerce, which is a free WordPress plugin and Shopify, which is a paid service hosted for you. Both can essentially do the same thing – sell stuff. Where they differ is who they are aimed at and what you are selling. Among many other factors, you can safely say that if you only have a handful of products with simple variants then hit Shopify, but if you need more complex variants with hundreds of products then go for Woocommerce.

Getting it wrong could mean blowing budget on a solution that turns out to be not fit for purpose or is quickly outgrown. When you’re locked into a solution that is not hitting the mark, and you don’t have any budget to fix the issues, it can be both frustrating and costly.

Be found

There is no point having an amazing website when no one can find you. Maybe they don’t even know they need your products, so you need to find them. In fact, many consumers are often undecided on a brand when they begin searching online, so you have the opportunity to reach them early on in their journey.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Google Ads and Facebook among other things are your online virtual shopping mall. Use these tools to entice people through your doors and then lead them through an easy shopping experience with upsells and cross-sells.

Use insights & analysis

If you inject insights and analysis into every decision you make, you’re on the right track to building and maintaining lasting relationships with your consumers. But to do that, you need to improve your analytics game.

The big metrics to look out for here are ROI (return on investment) and conversion rate. These numbers will tell you what marketing activities are working and the best way to spread your budget. You can then use this data to refine your online store – remember your website is a living, breathing marketing machine. The best and most successful ones out there use the data available to them and refine.

Key takeaways

The future of eCommerce is bright, and you can also adapt to this growing landscape using the right tools and knowledge. By knowing your target market, giving them a great customer experience, removing friction from the process, choosing the right platform, investing in digital marketing and analysing your performance, you’ll already be way ahead in the eCommerce game.